UN issues flash appeal for $160 million to help Pakistan with floods

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ISLAMABAD — The United Nations issued a flash appeal on Tuesday for $160 million to help Pakistan cope with floods that have killed more than 1,100 people, affected 33 million, and destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops.

Early estimates put the damage from the floods at more than $10 billion, the government has said, adding that the world had an obligation to help the South Asian country cope with the effects of man-made climate change.

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“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video message for the launch of the appeal in Islamabad and Geneva.

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“The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding.”

He said the scale of needs, with millions of people forced from their homes, schools and health facilities destroyed and livelihoods shattered by the climate catastrophe, required the world’s collective and prioritized attention.

Torrential rain has triggered flash floods that have crashed down from northern mountains, destroying buildings and bridges and washing away roads and crops.

Huge volumes of water are pouring into the Indus river, which flows down the middle of the country from its northern peaks to southern plains, bringing flooding along its length.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said hundreds of thousands of women, children and men were living out under the sky without access to food, clean water, shelter and basic healthcare.

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“We urgently need shelter and tents, and mosquito nets,” he said, adding that Pakistan would also need help with rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-hit areas.

Pakistan estimates the floods have affected more than 33 million people, or more than 15% of its 220 million population.

Guterres said the $160 million he hoped to raise with the appeal would provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health support.

General Akhtar Nawaz, chief of the national disaster agency, said at least 72 of Pakistan’s 160 districts had been declared calamity hit.

More than two million acres of agriculture land were flooded, he said.

Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan had become ground zero for global warming.

“The situation is likely to deteriorate even further as heavy rains continue over areas already inundated by more than two months of storms and flooding,” he said.

Guterres appealed for a speedy response to Pakistan’s request to the international community for help.

“Let us all step up in solidarity and support the people of Pakistan in their hour of need,” he said.

“Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change.” (Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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